Bayelsa PDP Guber Primaries: One Injured as Thugs Engage Security in Shootout


APC gets nod to conduct direct primary

Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

One person was severely injured yesterday during the screening and accreditation of delegates for the Bayelsa State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary election when suspected political thugs engaged policemen in an exchange of gunfire.

The Ijaw House, venue of the accreditation, was a war zone of sorts as journalists, delegates and party leaders ran for safety on the Sani Abacha expressway in Yenagoa, the state capital.

Before the disruption of proceedings, the party had begun the conduct of its governorship primary election at about 2 p.m. with the Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku, overseeing the exercise.

The hoodlums also allegedly detonated a suspected Improvised Explosive Device (IED) which reverberated throughout the Sani Abacha way and its surroundings, and sent passersby scampering for safety.

It was also gathered that the thugs reinforced and made a second attempt to take over the venue by detonating the explosive, but they were repelled by security operatives. The explosive was reportedly detonated at the old assembly quarters close to the venue of the primaries.

All roads leading to the accreditation centre were condoned off by armed security personnel while there was also heavy security presence at the Ijaw House, venue of the exercise.

Meanwhile, a Sagbama High Court in Yenagoa yesterday declined jurisdiction in a suit brought by aggrieved party loyalists seeking to stop the recently inaugurated local government chairmen, their deputies and councillors from voting in the primaries.

Justice Eberiyin Omukoro, who presided over the case, said he did not have the powers to grant the reliefs sought by the claimants. He thereafter struck out the case.

The 105 councillors, eight deputy chairmen and council chairmen along with over 1,000 other delegates were still undergoing accreditation at the Ijaw House in Yenagoa at the time of filling this report.

The court also said the claimants lacked the locus to demand the disqualification of the ward and local government ad-hoc delegates elected to participate in the primaries.

The aggrieved aspirants, including a former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, and Chief Fred Agbedi, had approached the court to bar the ad-hoc delegates from partaking in the primaries.

They had argued that since the elected officials failed to satisfy the 90-day ceiling in the case of local government officials and one-month timeframe in the case of ad-hoc delegates in line with the provisions of the PDP constitution, they were not qualified as delegates for the internal poll.

Justice Omukoro in his ruling said the court was constraint to dismiss the issue of jurisdiction before considering the substance of the case.

Citing judicial precedents, he first defined an aspirant of any political party as someone who participates in the primary election of the party.

He posited that since the person seeking the reliefs had yet to participate in the primary election of the PDP, the court could not entertain such pre-primary matter.

The judge insisted that since the claimants lacked the locus to institute the matter as aspirants, the court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.

According to him, “It is not the business of the court to dabble into the internal matters of a political party. This court is not invested with the jurisdiction to hear the matter. The only jurisdiction the court has is to strike out the case of the claimants with the cost awarded.”

However, in the All Progressives Congress (APC) case, the Sagbama High Court set aside the interim order stopping the party from conducting its governorship primaries in the state using the direct method, citing the lack of jurisdiction in the matter.

Pg 11